4K 4K 4K…oh how you are a bewildering one. I love you and hate to shoot anything but you, but you are pain in the arse and nobody can really appreciate you or see the difference unless they are practically making love to the TV….oh 4K, why must you be such a confusing love of mine?
There we go. Summed it up in one bizarre paragraph. I have done an in depth blog post about 4k here which is worth a read…I do need to update that, as since then I now have a 4K monitor on my edit suite and a 4K TV to go with the 2 4K cameras I own…so I do feel quite qualified in my opinion!
Blackmagic announced their 4K “Production Camera” at NAB back in April with a “pigs will fly” shipping date of the summer…this year. Well here we are a few days from Christmas and Saint Nick is unlikely to be bringing any of them down the chimney…next year then? Soon….I am told they are almost ready.
So what is the big deal with this camera? Well it’s BMD’s 3rd one, after the OK “Cinema Camera” and my preferred one the “Pocket Camera” (I have very in-depth reviews of both these under my reviews section on my site here) and now, their first camera to offer 4K…whether we need it or not!!
What makes this 4k camera special is it’s also 4k…as in $4000…that’s cheap, way cheaper than any other Super 35mm 4K camera. I say Super 35mm, as there are cheaper ones. My Samsung Galaxy Note 3 shoots 4k as you can see here! It also had a global shutter which is a big plus, as we lose those horrible rolling shutter artifacts/ jello…although it does come at a cost of light sensitivity.
Uniquely a company CEO has gone and shot some test footage that has been shared to the public to play with. Not raw, PRORES HQ, and shot in film mode I guess. You can download it from here. It’s a big download of around 10gb so don’t do it on your phone…
I wanted to do a quick update on the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K.
As I have mentioned previously we have been working hard on redesigning part of the camera due to differences in the production sensors to what we experienced in the early camera builds, however that work is completed now and we are in final testing.
I wanted to post some clips that I personally have shot from the camera as I know people are interested in them. We have other more experienced camera operators out shooting with beta cameras now and they can post more realistic clips with lens details and other shooting information soon, however I wanted to post something now so I thought I would upload some of the clips I have shot personally.
The Blackmagic Production Camera 4K is very different to our other cameras, but I personally think it’s quite filmy in its look, even though it’s not really a digital film camera but more of a general production camera.
This camera is not a low light camera, however I have included some clips at night so you can see that. I spent a few weeks wandering around with the camera taking some different types of shots. One shot of the jetty has some clipping in the sky to see the affect of clipping. All the shots are ProRes as I did not shoot RAW. I did notice that later when the guys did some more tests on the camera and lens that it was not shimmed correctly so I think the results could be better than this. Some of the shots have different shutter angles and I used standard still camera lenses.
The download is at:
Its a big file at just under 10 GB so it will take a little while to download, but these 4K files are big. Also, I know you might want to color grade these shots so I allowed some clips to be longer at up to 10 seconds for some of them. I think when working in higher resolution, being able to see the movement in the distance in these shots is quite interesting. I will be excited to see if anyone color grades these shots up nice because I am a terrible colorist!
We expect to see some of the DOP’s beta testing the camera to post some professional test shots with comments on how the camera performs in a few days. I hope that gives everyone a better feel for the camera. A lot of people think this camera is a similar camera to our other cinema cameras, but it’s quite different and so I think these posts will be important so people know what it’s like to use.
I think people’s relationship to cameras is such a personal and deeply creative connection, so I never really know what will happen with a new camera until it’s used professionally. It has been really fun to get time over the last few weeks to use it myself!
So…what’s it like? Well download it and have a look. As an owner of a Canon 1DC and a Sony F55 I am of course spoilt. I have of course shot on other 4k cameras, namely the RED cameras and no, this doesn’t match these cameras in terms of detail or image quality…but it’s $4k and for that, it’s not bad at all. Not amazing…but we really MUST wait until Production models of the er…Production Camera are released. I hope to get a review camera sometime in the new year….but the footage actually is pretty good!
I have done a simple edit and grade of the footage using RedGiant’s Colorista II and FilmConvert (This was set to zero % grain to keep the image clean, just used the look). Discount codes are available for both, details in the banners below. I also threw on 3 Photoshop LUTS. Basically this is a HEAVY grade….deliberately. I want to see how it held up. Totally cool with you hating it…that is the why you can download the orignal files!! The noise definitely showed up when I cropped in…quite hidden as always by the H264 web export but totally there on my HQ original.
I have taken the same shots and put them on a 1080p timeline (they are shot UHD not full 4K) and scaled down the image to to fit and then blown it up again by double…the blow up shots do look softer…and noisier. They don’t hold as my other two cameras as a comparison, especially the astonishing 1DC. So my main reason for shooting 4k would be not so ideal here. I use it to crop, mostly interviews, and get longer shots than my lens can cope with and especially for minor corrections in framing. I also downscale from 4K to 2K as it generally produces a nicer image, and it does here. Anyway early days. Just test footage. Please download the files. Try yourself and share your edits in the comments section below.
I have also embedded James Miller’s 4K edit from YouTube. Also, for something completely different and way nicer than all of this, here is a film of lovely Texan model Lauren Lev who I lens whacked with my new Sony A7R in NY last week. The review is almost edited and will be up before Christmas Day. It covers the A7, R and RX10. I just need more time to edit it. It’s epic…of course!
So first is the A7R video…because I prefer it and it’s beautiful…then below that is my grade of the production camera footage then Mr. Miller’s 4K version.